New Study: One Katrina-Like Storm Surge Every Other Year
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA), a storm surge is an “abnormal rise of water generated by a storm, over and above the predicted astronomical tide”. (See image below)
In other words, the wind of a storm pushes the sea at a higher level than the normal tide. The result is flooding of coastal areas which can cause not only incredible damage coastal homes and infrastructure, but also great loss of life. Still fresh in the collective memory of North Americans are the storm surges associated with Hurricane Sandy (2012) and Hurricane Katrina (2005).
According to a group of researchers from the Neils Bohr Institute (NBI), extreme storm surges like the one caused by Hurricane Katrina, are set to dramatically increase in the years to come.
The scientists from the NBI used data from monitoring stations along the coast of Gulf of Mexico as well as the Atlantic coast of the US to predict the frequency of hurricane storm surges into the next 100 years. Their results led to the conclusion that if warming of the planet reaches 2 degrees Celsius above pre industrial temperatures, we would see 10-fold increase in the number of Katrina-like storm surges. Put in different units of measurement, this translates into one Katrina-like storm surge every other year.
Unfortunately, the situation becomes even worse when you consider that sea levels will also be rising as temperatures continue to rise. This means that the starting point of any storm surge will be higher, resulting in greater flooding and greater destruction.
Every day that we delay, we reduce the odds of limiting warming to 2 degrees. Every day that we delay, we increase the chances that this is in our future. So what the hell are we waiting for?